Rope Street, Brasov Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
A friend asked me recently if I found any similarities between the collectivist Home Owners Association (HOA) in the U.S. and living in communist Romania in cinder block apartments the size of the average hotel room. We did have a different HOA in these reinforced concrete high rises, the Residents’ Association (Asociatia Locatarilor). Its governing board was chosen from the least outspoken residents who sometimes doubled as informers to the Security Police, reporting on the comings and goings of the residents and on their political statements made accidentally in ordinary conversations with neighbors.
The Residents’ Association decided when the water heaters were to be serviced, what kind of cold and hot water schedule we were going to follow, how much heat we received from the government mother ship, how much any repairs would cost, and how the due bills were to be divided evenly between all families, if the association would pay the electric bill for some widow who was behind on her dues, which mechanic they were going to hire to fix whatever was broken in the apartment complex.
In the egalitarian utopia, the total bill was to be split equally between all families, regardless of how many people lived in one apartment. Some had children, some lived alone and the consumption was vastly different but the contribution share had to be equal. It was similar at work; no matter how little effort a person put in, they were paid the same. The incentive died quickly when people realized effort and extra work did not count. But everyone expected that 13th salary at the end of the year – a bonus that few people deserved.
Residents had to take turns to sweep the hallways and the street surrounding the apartment complex. Forced volunteer work beautified the surroundings with flowers, grass, bushes, and trees, all with money from the residents.
The HOAs here are actually associations that residents willingly sign into in order to purchase or build a home. Those who volunteer for the board and are actually voted in are either busy-bodies, residents who like to be in charge, in control over “minions,” or those home owners who expect something in return or get a high from controlling other people and telling them what to do and how to do things with their own homes and properties.
HOAs were initially sold to home owners as a way to instill a sense of community, of belonging, for protection, and to preserve property values. I fail to see how paying a fee each month to maintain the club house and the swimming pool for the neighborhood children increases my property’s value when I try to sell it. The way I see it, the only benefits derived to me is garbage pickup and snow removal when that actually happens.
The HOA certainly does not deter crime nor protect the neighborhood even though they park a “security” car by the club house. It is a neighborhood joke as more and more cars are broken into and sometimes even stolen, and people robbed at gun point in the dog park. Crime has spiked since the Obama regime increased the number of illegals and refugees forcibly inserted into peaceful communities. Obama was determined to reengineer how we lived because we were not diverse, inclusive, and multicultural enough.
The covenant rules are so detailed that most contracts look like a huge tome. They tell us what color to paint homes, fences, mailboxes, whether we can or cannot grow vegetables, plant a bush, put an antenna on the house, build a deck, a gazebo, a patio, whether we can park our cars in the driveway, in the street, put up Christmas decorations, fly the American flag, etc.
Americans have lost homes because they did not comply with the strict HOA rules, were fined, refused to pay the fines, and were eventually evicted by courts from their own homes which were then sold in order to recoup the escalating fines.
Florida Third District Court of Appeals ruled that homeowners don’t have the right to grow vegetables on their own properties. It is acceptable to grow grass but not something to eat. http://www.truthandaction.org/court-rules-citizens-dont-have-right-grow-veggies-on-their-own-properties/
In Colorado, one unfortunate family eventually lost their home and the husband’s good health after protracted and costly legal battles with their HOA because they had dared to complain about the neighbor’s dogs barking non-stop in the very adjacent home to their own bedroom window. It begs the question why builders would place a home so close to another. However, if we follow the development of property rights in this country and the Smart Growth policy promoted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) among others, we understand the world- wide U.N. Agenda 2030 which endorses tiny homes and small spaces, and denigrates suburbia as urban sprawl.
Some HOAs encourage and promote aggressive politics. In Reston, Virginia, a hotbed of uber-liberalism, yard signs appeared that read, “Hate Has No Home Here,” implying, of course, that, unless you agree with their liberal politics, you are a “hater.” https://lesfemmes-thetruth.blogspot.com/2017/11/have-you-seen-hate-has-no-home-here.html#more
As Tom DeWeese recently wrote, “Rail trails, walkable communities, complete streets, to help build ‘strong communities’ are all part of the grand NAR vision for America’s glorious future. Its vision of utopia – a beautiful, well-controlled community of high rises where shopping and jobs are within biking or walking distance or a quick ride on a quaint trolley. Wind turbines turn lazily in the background to supply all energy needs. There are no dirty smokestacks, no cars, no parking problems, no gridlock, and no sprawl. According to the vision, everyone is living in complete harmony.” https://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/opinion/item/19850-private-property-rights-and-socialism-do-not-mix
Moving people into tiny apartments, most the size of a hotel room or a jail cell is a “chic” trend presented as a desirable option for someone who cannot afford a mortgage or rent on a decently sized apartment. Who wants to assemble and disassemble their furniture every day in order to have living space for different activities during the day?
One can rent an apartment in New York the size of a closet, 90 square ft., or a 250 square ft. apartment in California. You can call it the euphemistic term, “minimalism,” but we should call it what it is, forced social engineering into high-rise apartments. But it’s worse in Japan, where rent is calculated in some highly desirable areas by the square inch.
To promote micro-living and sell the idea to Americans who like to live in normal sized homes, United Tiny House Association even has festivals around the country. http://unitedtinyhouse.com/
One can have a 128-square ft. apartment in Hong Kong but, if the rent is too high for you, you can opt for a sixteen-square ft. “micro-unit,” wire-mesh cages stacked on top of each other, where bed bugs are part of the package. The rent is cheap, about $167 per month. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/wealthy-hong-kong-poorest-live-metal-cages-article-1.1258661
I lived through this kind of controlled utopia under communism. The only people who rented or owned luxurious living spaces and expensive cars where the communist party apparatchiks. The Iron Curtain countries were among the most polluted countries in the world. The communists had no regard for human life, water, soil, or the air we breathed. And we certainly could not go very far just by bikes, buses, and trains. What a fantastic way to control the comings and goings of the entire population, every aspect of their lives!
Kevin Williamson wrote in Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, “By the time the Soviet government collapsed, fully one-sixth of Russia’s territory had been rendered uninhabitable because of pollution and other environmental devastation.”
I still remember as a child the oil slicks in most of the creeks and rivers running through my hometown or the neighboring villages and the pungent smell of petroleum by-products coming from most lakes and bodies of water. When we hanged laundry to dry on the balcony, by the afternoon the clothes had a tinge of greyish powder which had deposited from the polluted air.
We had to travel to the mountains by train, sixty miles or so to escape the industrial pollution of my hometown and to breathe fresh air, that’s how little regard the Communist Party planners had for the environment and for what they were doing to our health.
We did not have a Declaration of Independence, all humans were not “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” we had whatever rights and responsibilities the dear leader said we had. The communist government had no limits on the power they had over each individual citizen.
The dear leader was always right and, if the minions dared to question or complain about anything, they became dispensable “units”. That is why 100 million people were killed in various communist regimes.
It rankles me when I see Millennials wearing Che Guevara and Mao t-shirts, while arguing that socialism is great. The numerous countries where socialism and communism were utter failures have done it all wrong, but, if they have a chance, they will do it the right way. If you ask them what the right way is, they stare stupidly into the camera like a deer in the headlights because they have no idea.
The communist party and their social engineers had moved many people off their small farms, confiscated their lands for co-operative farms and moved them into towns in high-rise apartments with elevators in some that stayed broken a lot of the time while others had none. The apparatchiks leveled their farm homes and forced the villagers to work in the fields for an equal share of the crop regardless of effort, with the communist party getting their lion’s share of each crop.
The elites of the party and their underlings occupied the beautiful villas they confiscated from those they considered part of the bourgeoisie, after they threw them in jail and left their families destitute to fend for themselves while their loved ones served as much as decades in hard labor camps for no fault of their own other than the fact that they inherited a piece of private property.
Private property is what gives us freedom yet the Marxist propaganda machine vilified anyone who owned something more than the next person. Uncle Paul served seven years for such offense and luckily survived but his family became destitute. The late Dr. Petrasovich was sentenced to 17 years of hard labor in a lead mine because he had a villa in the fashionable mountain resort of Sinaia. He survived his incarceration as well and was able to immigrate to the U.S.
Marxism indoctrinated its followers into the idea that humans, after intense forced education, will willingly give up their private property and thus forever eliminate economic inequalities that “allegedly created class conflict.”
Using force, Marxists tried to reengineer human nature, to force people to change the historical tendency to own land, whether be it through families, tribes, or individuals. But they failed miserably. Humans are not that altruistic to give up everything in the name of “social justice,” a pie in the sky concept devised to entice the newbies to adopt the Marxist philosophy.
The desire to acquire and accumulate private property throughout one’s life and pass it on to heirs is an intrinsic part of our human psyche. Why else would we save for a rainy day, acquire land, real estate, why do we collect, and, in the more extreme cases, why do we hoard certain things?
Forcibly nationalizing industries, confiscating any private property, land, homes, paintings, jewelry, bank accounts, cash, cars, tractors and other farm implements, and distributing them to communist officials loyal to the dear leader was a recipe for disaster which expressed itself in the declining productivity, theft, and turning the citizenry into wards of the state, dependent on government for their daily existence and survival. The change was so drastic that, after many years of communist exploitation, people would wait on the government to tell them what to do next, that’s how brainwashed they were. Any incentive and motivation to do better, to do more that would benefit society too was dead.
Friedrich Hayek said that citizens motivated by the possibility of wealth, worked harder and beyond their immediate needs, thus bringing other benefits to society at large. Communist apparatchiks have used deception, coercion, and force to translate their goals into action. If millions who stood in the way or questioned anything had to die in the process, that was just collateral damage in the quest of utopian communism.
As we had constant shortages of everything because communists were not good at all at centralized economic planning, the people were turned into slaves to the state and as such, they became more materialistic and avaricious, hoarding in excess of what they needed. The communist party solution was not to improve economic planning using the free market supply and demand, but to adopt laws that punished hoarders, to institute the financial police, more rationing via coupons, and laws that prescribed how much each person could consume in calories per day.
People started stealing from their work and traded with others in order to meet their survival needs. If the state did not respect their property rights and stole everything they had owned, why should they respect the government’s property even though the state kept telling them, you are the collective owners of the means of production, if you steal, you are stealing from yourselves. They knew better, they had no claim to anything surrounding them, it was not their private property to be had, and it belonged to the communist party elites who could take whatever they wanted or needed.
The non-conformists such as my dad were silenced. People lost self-reliance – they had seen too many times when initiative was treated as a crime, so they started waiting to be ordered what to do next. The work ethic died quickly and the sense of civic and public responsibility disappeared as well. As an example, people would wait in their own homes while mounds of snow or mud were cutting off any possibility of egress from their village to the rest of the world. If an earthquake struck and people were buried alive, they also waited for officials to dig them out.
Dennis Praeger remarked that “socialism teaches its citizens to expect everything, even if they contribute nothing… they have a plethora of rights and few corresponding obligations.” Many citizens in Romania objected to being taxed after the “fall” of communism in 1989 and many still do today.
The rapacious materialism bred by communism translated into less charitable acts. Non socialists tend to donate much more to their fellow man in need. Socialists may donate to family but much less to others in need, they expect the state to do it all. We can see that in Democrat politicians today who are very generous with other people’s money. Margaret Thatcher said that socialism was great until they ran out of other people’s money.
Rope Street, Brasov Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015